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Become A Foster Family

Foster parents are the real heroes of any rescue organization. Having a foster space available is most often the best way we can help these sweet angels on their road to a new and loving adoptive home.

Please consider opening your heart and home to being a BrightHaven foster parent.

Fostering FAQs

What does a foster parent do?

The most important thing that a foster parent can do is to provide love and stability to an animal. So often these animals are discarded family pets. They need to feel safe again, to know that someone is taking care of them. Regular meals, kind words and gentle strokes, a soft bed — you give them hope again.

What is a “senior” or “special needs” animal?

What most people call “senior” we call middle-aged. The cats in our foster program are typically between 8 and 15 years of age. With dogs, “senior” depends on the breed. “Special needs” can mean a lot of things: It can simply be an animal making it through life with three legs or one eye; the animal could be blind or deaf; perhaps the animal needs daily medication to control a thyroid problem. Some “special needs” animals require no special care while others need ongoing attention to manage a condition.

Won’t I get attached?

Yes, you will — and you should. Love heals. The emotional connection between the foster parent and the pet brings out the best in the animal. But think of yourself as a good parent who gives a child what s/he may need to go out into the world. Once your foster pet is adopted there will be another animal who needs you. And another one after that…

What will it cost me?

We cover all medical expenses. Typically the foster parent pays for food, litter, toys and treats. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so save your receipts. Your expenditures are tax-deductible.

Where does my foster come from?

Many of the animals who find themselves in foster homes were once a beloved pet. For some, their person passed way, entered a nursing home or left the country for military service and no one else could step up. Others were dumped in a box along a busy highway or found hungry at a back door. But however these pets came to us, the fault was not their own; these lovely animals are not “damaged goods.”

How will my foster find a permanent home? How long will it take?

We list the animals in our foster program on Petfinder,  Craigslist and on our own website, and we have an extensive email database for sending out alerts about new animals in our foster program. We do not do caged pet store adoptions — it’s too stressful for the animal and doesn’t give the broad exposure that internet adoptions offer. You won’t have to take your foster pet to any outside adoption events but you would need to be comfortable having a pre-screened potential adopter meet the pet in your home.

How long will it take?

There is no set time. The fastest foster-to-forever home was 48 hours for a friendly longhaired calico; the longest was 2-1/2 years for a charming little tuxedo kitty with a brain stem injury. We ask that you plan on a 3-6 month commitment.

Can I be involved in the adoption process?

Absolutely. You’re the one living with the foster pet and you know that animal best. Once a potential adopter passes an initial screening we will be happy to have you correspond with him/her by email or connect you by phone. We need your involvement to make the right match.

What happens if I can’t continue fostering?

We’ll do our best to remedy any problems that might come up with your foster animal. However, if your foster situation cannot be remedied, of course we will take the animal back as soon as it can be arranged.

All of our coordinators and foster homes are volunteers and it sometimes takes a day or two to orchestrate a transfer. You will most likely be asked if you can hold on until a new foster situation can be arranged. In the meantime, it is very important that you not leave the animal in the care of an unauthorized person or adopt the animal out on your own during this (or any) time. We have a very thorough adoption and fostering procedure to ensure a long and happy life for the animals we rescue.

Can I adopt the pet I’m fostering?

Yes, but…with so many animals needing a foster home, we’d prefer you didn’t adopt your foster pet. Many of us are foster parents, and we will be there to give you support when your foster pet finds a wonderful home. The best advice we can offer is to go into the foster process understanding that your role in your foster pet’s life is to provide a safe haven until his/her forever home comes along. We guarantee that you will come to love the next one and the one after that just as much.

How do I get more information? What if I want to sign up?

Contact Susan Hoffman at or at 415-359-4113.